It was a grueling ten-day trip, but the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ final stadium inspection tour has proved invaluable in ensuring that the 10 World Cup stadiums are in prime condition when the tournament kicks off on 11 June 2010.
The inspection tour, which began at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg on 16 March and ended in Green Point stadium in Cape Town on 25 March, saw all departments from both the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC) and FIFA scrutinising the stadiums to ensure that they will be ready. And at the end of the tour, all parties are confident that it is all systems go for 11 June 2010.
“We have certainly travelled a long road since the first stadium inspection tour in 2005. In each inspection we saw the stadiums develop from an idea on a piece of paper in an architect’s office to the magnificent football arenas that we see before us today,” said the OC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Danny Jordaan.
“These inspection tours have played a vital role in ensuring that our stadiums are well prepared for the World Cup. The final tour is now complete and we can say with confidence that we have delivered on our promise of ten World class stadiums and we have delivered them months before the tournament even starts,” added Jordaan.
For Jordaan the areas that are now under inspection indicate just how far the World Cup plans have come.
“What we are looking at now is just the final detail. No longer are we inspecting whether a specific wall will be built but where the team buses will park, ensuring that the security arrangements are nailed down and making sure that the fans will be provided with correct signage to take them to their seat,” said Jordaan.
The movement of the teams from when they arrive in the stadiums until they get on the pitch is an area that required the attention of many departments during the inspection.
The security department needs to ensure that the team entrance to the stadium is secured while the transport department, who are tasked with bringing the teams to the stadium and back, need to finalise the routes the team buses will take before the match.
The team facilities, such as the change rooms, warm up areas, medical centres and pitch side facilities need to be top-class and meet the FIFA and OC’s stringent requirements and as such received much attention during the inspection. The facilities need to be checked and the routes from the change room to the pitch defined.
Ensuring the safety and security of teams and fans
With thousands of football fans expected at each match, it is essential that security is in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly. For the OC, the area of consideration falls within the stadium perimeter, while the country – through the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force – secures the area outside the stadium perimeter.
Throughout the inspection the security teams were inspecting the perimeter to determine the access points for fans, teams and officials as well as to ensure that all the necessary security infrastructure, such as fencing, was in place.
The health of the fans and teams is also a major focus for the organisers of the World Cup and the medical department was on hand to inspect the medical facilities of each stadium, which includes the access routes for ambulances as well as ensuring that the numerous medical rooms had sufficient equipment to handle any eventuality.
Bringing the fans to their seats
No doubt one of the most important groups in any World Cup are the hundreds-and-thousands of fans who come to the stadiums to cheer on their teams and players. During the inspection tour much time was given to ensuring that the spectators will have easy access to their seats.
Firstly the drop-off points for the park and rides need to be established as well as the routes the fans will then take. Once they have arrived at the stadium it is important that they can find the way to their seat as easily as possible. This is where signage comes into play and throughout the inspection tour the signage team were hard at work making sure that they had mapped out the routes and developed a plan to direct the crowds.
Taking the message to the world
To ensure that the 18,000 media professionals from all over the world who will be working during the World Cup are provided with world-class services, media operations is a vital consideration that will allow the media to tell the World Cup story and was one of the areas under scrutiny over the last ten days.
Facilities required for the media include a stadium media centre with working areas and internet connectivity, a media tribune inside the stadium, rooms for interviews with players and coaches and a mixed zone for short interviews with players after the match.
Broadcast operations was another important aspect of the inspection. A broadcast compound as well as sufficient camera platforms have to be in place for the broadcasters from around the globe to take the tournament to billions.
For the broadcast and media operations to work effectively, a world-class IT infrastructure is required and this was another important element of the inspection tour.